Monday, February 1, 2016

Why I Cannot Help It.

I understand you might not believe in God. I know you have probably been offended, hurt, ripped off, or even treated maliciously by a Christian at some point in your life. Maybe you've been shocked at the horrific way Christians have treated those with opposing beliefs. I admit, I have done these things to people in my ignorance or sinful choices too. But feelings are not the guiding principle of the world. Your opinions of right or wrong should not be what leads you to decide who rules the universe. What seems good and noble to you will have no bearing on what happens to you after you die, and this is what concerns me the most. This is why I write.

I've always wanted my writing to be applicable to many people. Not just Christians, not just homeschoolers, not just women. More than anything, I want the chance to impact people's lives, to lead them to God, and give them the courage they need to live free from their burdens and anxieties. I want to give people hope, challenge them to live beyond their fears, and strive for excellence in all they do. But the more I write and the more I think, I discover I cannot write to the broad audience I had once hoped to reach. At least, not in the way I had originally envisioned.

When I was in High School, I shared with a select few my desire to write about the Bible, to write about how to live as a Christ-follower in our distracting and despairing world. In college my eyes were opened to several different genres of literature and my desires began to shift a little. I've always been a reader, and some of the books I enjoyed in High School and college seemed a bit beyond my years and understanding, at least to an outsider. I'm sure I would gain even more from books like The Grapes of Wrath and Brave New World, but even in my limited understanding of the world at 17, I saw there were deep truths to be grasped in secular literature.

After getting married and having kids, my home library grew, but consisted of mostly Christian titles. There were lots of Bible study type of books, lots of Christian-Living books, and lots of books written by prominent women in the Christian culture. I was fine with this at the time, as these books almost always set my heart back to God and encouraged me to grow in my knowledge of the Bible. It was only the last year or two that I began to enjoy a good fictional novel again. I jumped right in and am so thankful for all the lovely recommendations I've received.

These fiction books have inspired something in me, something that burns to share the gospel with people who want nothing to do with God. I hope those opposed to God would read a book, having no clue it would share the redemption story, and eventually see what is missing in their lives. I wouldn't call it a pipe dream, but it certainly feels a bit lofty for where I am at right now. The problem is, every time I sit down to write, I cannot help but talk about the way God holds me together, or how He stirs in my heart, or how He empowers me to love my friends and family. I don't especially want to be classified as a "Christian author" but there is this crazy fire in my heart, forcing me to just come out and say "It's true, you need God".

How often have you thought about your death? What brings you comfort thinking about a loved-one who has already passed away? Do you ignore it? Do you simply try to be happy until death appears at your door? These are questions I could not face without knowing my eternal standing. And these are the same questions I think about for others, for all my unbelieving friends. And this is why I cannot help writing about God.

I want to be earnest with you, unbelieving friend. I want to beg you to think about your death. I know it seems morbid, but I can't help but wonder how much thought you have put into it. Death is inevitable, and it could happen tomorrow, or even today! Are your really ready? Am I?

Francis and Lisa Chan published a book called You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity. It motivated me to consider more greatly how I view eternity in light of this world. On page 134 Francis says "If you'd rather watch your kids grow up than see the face of your Savior today, you don't grasp the beauty of God. If you worry about what would happen to your children if you were gone, you don't understand the providence of God." This seems incredibly extreme, and Francis says so too. But it is the truth, and we need to consider it with reverence. How happy would you be to be in Heaven tomorrow? How happy would you be if your child got there before you? This addresses the root of what I think makes Christians these days poor examples of living for God's eternal kingdom. (I am not talking about grieving the death of a loved one and missing them, but rather the weight of the value we place on being here on earth.) We care far more about living comfortably here on earth than we care about the souls of people around us, about experiencing the eternal happiness of being with our Creator. Most Christians admit to believing in Heaven and Hell, yet make little effort to store up treasure in Heaven, much less save those perishing right beside them.

If you don't believe in God, do you believe in Heaven? Have you considered what you believe about it, and why? Can you logically reason through all of your beliefs and come up with something even close to plausible?

I ask these questions out of genuine curiosity and concern. I'm not going to detail everything about God, eternity, Jesus and more right here, right now. But I would be happy to have a real conversation with you about it, in person preferably, via email if necessary. Not because I feel the need to win people over, or because I want to be "right" in my own eyes, but because I honestly worry about what will happen to you after you die. And this is what compels me to keep writing, to keep sharing.

This is why I cannot help but mention God when I talk about what I am struggling with or what I am having victory over in my life. He drives everything. I cannot claim to be a Christian, then go on living the same way the rest of the world does. There is nothing I have found to live for here on earth better than getting ready for living forever after I die. This means everything I pursue is thought through all the way to my death and beyond. I look at every endeavor and say "Will I be glad I spent my time and effort on this in Heaven?". I look at what I believe and ask "Would I still believe this if I lived in a shack in India?". If I cannot answer these questions and see how they work with God's desire to make Himself known to the lost, I have no choice but to give up these desires and beliefs. Sometimes they fall easy, sometimes I get lost in them for a long time. Always, I wish I had the guts to toss them aside at the first sign of being rooted in my desire for fulfillment in things apart from God.

That is where I want to be everyday. Wholeheartedly desiring to be fulfilled in God alone. And this is why I cannot write to you only about living on earth, or only about homeschooling, or only about getting along with my children. If I am giving you advice that allows you to live apart from God and feel okay with that, let me be forever unable to share! While I cringe at the idea of being a "Christian Writer" I cannot pursue anything else without ignoring my conscience. And for all my friends who do not believe, I can only hope you will consider my words with love and honesty. I pray God will reveal Himself to you, and that you will desire to know the truth of our existence in this universe, and not settle for only the here and now.

I could keep going, trying to reason through the impact we leave behind, whether we believe in God, eternity, or nothing, but my post would be far too long. Instead, I want to challenge you to read two books. First, read the bible. If you've never read the bible, read the four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Heck, even read just one! See Jesus firsthand. Then, if you want to get all philosophical, and see the roots of what you believe, read The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer. Christian or not, he will enlighten you as to the long road our beliefs about the world take us down. He gets to the root of how we can determine good vs. evil, reality vs. what is only in our minds. It's a bit intellectual, but you will not regret straining your brain on this book.

Lastly, please don't hesitate to engage in a conversation with me. I'm not looking to point out sin, to mock you, disregard your struggles, or call you some ridiculous name. I want to share God's loving grace with anyone willing to hear. I hope with all my heart this will include you.

"And I tell you, ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."                                    
Luke 11:9-10

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